Friday, February 24, 2017

Is Income Inequality Slowing Us Down Too?

"Beep" Test
A new study has found that kids from the United States are among the least fit in the world (out of 50 countries). And it may be due to their unequal income distribution as researchers found a correlation between income inequality and fitness.

Researchers pooled data from 177 previous studies conducted around the world to understand the link between a country's income inequality and youth fitness. They specifically compared a country's Gini Index (which measures how income is distributed throughout that country) with a 20 metre shuttle run test in that same country. 

When there's a large gap between the rich and poor in a country (i.e. higher Gini Index), there tend to be large sub populations of poor people within that country. And poverty is linked with a whole bunch of poor health outcomes. One of those outcomes is poor aerobic fitness in children.

The researchers found that the greater the Gini Index (i.e. the higher the number), the less likely their kids were to perform well in the shuttle run test (also know as the "beep" test or the multi-stage fitness test).

Two parallel lines are drawn 20 metres apart in the "beep" or multi-stage fitness test. The children must run back and forth between the two lines, reaching each line before a beep sounds.

The time between beeps decreases as the test goes on, forcing the kids to run faster. If a child fails to reach the opposite line before the "beep" sounds twice in a row, he / she is eliminated from the test.

This test is popular around the world as many people can be tested simultaneously and research scientists use it to draw conclusions about a country's level of fitness by pooling and comparing data.

Our Singapore readers may remember this "beep" test was highly unpopular among our "S" league footballers who had to achieved Level 13-2 before they can play in our professional league.

Now, you must be wondering what does income inequality have to do with obesity?

The data suggested that poverty tends to make people less fit primarily when they live in a relatively rich (or developed) country while the opposite is true in undeveloped countries.

Researchers suggest that for the young people in developed countries with low income, they tend to not have access to healthy food. They normally have access to cheap but very high calorie, energy-dense food. Being poor but surrounded by fast food, cars and television seems to be more detrimental than being poor in a rural environment where physical activity is a necessary part of life.

The young people in undeveloped countries differs in that they may not have access to parks, playgrounds, equipment and facilities. They tend to be physically active out of obligation as they have to walk or cycle to and from work. They may also need to walk greater distances to access fresh water or groceries.

No Singapore kids were included in this study, but our Gini coefficient is on the high side so does this mean the poorer kids are less fit in Singapore too?

Maybe it's timely that it's announced in today's Straits Times that all pre-school children will have at least one hour of physical activity a day including time spent in the sun (to reduce myopia) and also be served healthy meals including fruit.

Front page in today's Straits Times 240217

When it comes to being fit and healthy, it's good to start them young.


Lang JJ, Tremblay MS et al (2016). International Variability in 20 m Shuttle Run Performance In Children And Youth: Who Are The Fittest From A 50-country Comparison? A Systematic Literature Review With Pooling Of Aggregate Results. BJSM. Published online first :20 Sptember 2016. DOI:

Saturday, February 18, 2017

World Champion Athlete Comes To Floss Band Course

We had a Pencak Silat World Champion attend the Floss Band course today at Sports Solutions along with coaches, and sparring partners from the Singapore Silat Federation.

Yes, you read correctly, Muhammad Shakir Junda (above right) is a 2-time Pencak Silat World Champion (in the over 85-90 kg category). He was crowned World Champion in 2012 and 2016.

While I was still working at the Singapore Sports Council (now the S'pore Sports Institute), I had treated 3 Silat World Champions before and I found out today they were still involved with grooming future world champions.

Of course there were also other Physiotherapists, Personal trainers, Physical Education teachers and Occupational Therapists attending the course today. It was good to see some familiar faces in the participants today (Jocelyn and Tommy).

Hey, I thought it was the Floss band course, not foam rolling

Tommy Yau explaining how it's done

Lenis and Jacq do the cha cha?
A big thank you to Amy, Danny and Ekina for coming early and getting the place ready so I can eat a little after seeing patients in the morning. And for packing up after the course too. Please contact them at Sanctband Singapore if you want to attend the next course in April.

Thank you to all who came to the course today, glad you guys found it useful. And hopefully we'll get more World Champions in Pencak Silat too.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Any Runners Recognise This?

Found this in my parents place. How many of you remember or recognise this? My parents are slowly clearing my stuff that I've accumulated over the years.

For those of you who don't know, these are the nails we use for the racing spikes (or shoes) on the running track.

Let me know if this brings back memories.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Lo Hei Yu Sheng 捞起魚生

Yati has never had "Yu Sheng" before ..... That's what she told us when we had it at Sports Solutions earlier today.

A very, very big thank you to Sham for organising it, preparing the ingredients herself and bringing it to the clinic so that we can celebrate Chinese New Year. Chapeu to Sham!

Unfortunately not all our staff could attend. Here's wishing everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year of the Rooster.

Here's what tossing or Lo Hei Yu Sheng means.

History of Yu Sheng (from Wikipedia):

It usually consists of strips of raw fish mixed with shredded vegetables and a variety of spices, sauces and condiments. Yu Sheng means raw fish but since fish (魚 is commonly conflated with its homophone "abundance"  . Yu Sheng (魚生) is interpreted as a homophone for Yu Sheng (余升) meaning an increase in abundance, signifying prosperity, abundance and vigour.

This contemporary version was created and popularised in the 1960's among the Chinese community in Singapore and Malaysia during Chinese New Year.

The tossing action is called "Lo Hei" (Cantonese for 捞起)  which means to rise. This is a reference to a thriving business and thus its popularity with Chinese businessmen and Chinese businesses during Chinese New Year.

The ingredients are mixed by tossing and pushing them towards the centre while saying "fatt ah" (in Cantonese) of "huat ah" (in Hokkien). It is believed that the height of the tossing reflects the height of the participant's growth in fortunes, thus everyone is expected to toss enthusiastically. 

Here's what we normally say. 恭喜发财 (Gong xi fa cai) meaning "Congratulations for your wealth". 万事如意 (Wan shi ru yi) meaning "May all you wishes be fulfilled". 

The fish is added, symbolising abundance and excess through the year. (Nian nian you you) meaning abundance through the year. Then oil is poured out, circling the ingredients and encouraging money to flow in from all directions. 一本万利 (Yi ben wan li) meaning "Make 10, 000 times the profit of your capital". 财源广进 (Cai yuan guang jin) meaning "Numerous sources of wealth", 

Carrots are then added indicating blessings of good luck. (Hong yun dang tou) meaning "Good luck is approaching. Carrots (红萝卜) are used as the first character 鸿 sounds like the Chinese character for red.

Then the shredded green radish is placed symbolising eternal youth. 青春常驻 (Qing chun chang zhu) meaning "forever young". Green radish is used as the 1st character 青 sounds like the Chinese character green. After which white radish is added - propsperity in business and promotion at work.  风生水起 (Feng sheng shui qi). Progress at a fast pace and 步步高升 (bu bu gao sheng) meaning "Reaching a higher level with each step.

The condiments are then added. 金银满屋 (Jing yin man wu) Peanut crumbs are dusted on the dish, symbolising a household filled with gold and silver. Sesame seeds quickly follow symbolising a flourishing business. 生意兴隆 (Sheng yi xing long) meaning "Prosperity for the business". Yu Sheng sauce is usually plum sauce, generously drizzled over everything. 甜甜蜜蜜 "Tian tian mi mi" meaning May life always be sweet.

Deep fried flour crisps in the shape of golden pillows is then added with wishes that literally mean the whole floor would be filled with gold.  满地黄金 (Man ti huang jin) "Floor full of gold".

Don't worry if you can't finish the dish as a small amount is usually left behind to signify abundance.There you have it. Now you know what it all means. 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Under Armour Speedform Slingshot Review

UA Speedform Slingshot
I received a pair of Under Armour Speedform Slingshot last October. A few readers have actually asked me about how the shoe feels. So it's about time I wrote about it!

Some trivia about the shoes. The shoes were produced in the same factory that produces sports bras! One of the special features of the Speedform Slingshot is its seamless heel cup, designed to have a sock like fit that hugs the foot. In fact the entire upper of the shoe is one continuous piece of material with a split over the laces forming the "tongue" part of a traditional running shoe.

Traditional running shoes uses a few parts for the heel portion, creating a gap between the shoe and the runner's heel. Why am I harping on the heel portion?

Ironically this was the bit that my R foot had a little problem with though it's not because of the technology or the shoe. My right foot is slightly smaller than my left. So while the left shoe fitted me really well, the right side was a little bit loose. So my foot was sliding forwards and back a little too much for my liking while I was running. So the problem was me, no fault of the shoe's. I easily fixed the problem running a thicker pair of anti slip socks (see picture below).

The midsole is made from two types of foam that encloses a Y-shaped plate in the midsole that flexes and springs back with each stride (the “slingshot” of the shoe’s name). 

On my first run with the shoe, it felt as though the shoe needs to be "broken in". The shoe felt very stiff and unresponsive. I remember thinking to myself that it was a pity as while trying the shoe and walking around with it the shoe felt fine.

Fortunately I don't write shoe reviews just based on a single run. Also for all the things I'm reviewing, I request that I be allowed to write what I want and not write a glowing review just because I got the shoe free. Otherwise I will not do the review.

From my second run with the shoe onwards the shoe felt smooth, fast feeling and lightweight like it is. Strange that the shoe seems to need "breaking in" as most shoes now don't need to. Other than that I had no other complaints.

Thanks to Marie and Wilfred once again.